Recently a Boise, Idaho sportscaster, Paul Gerke, did his whole segment on the local news in character as Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy. Yes, part of it was because it was Halloween and also partly because Anchorman 2 previews have begun airing. I found it amusing and then I thought about it: more news teams should do things like this more often. It'd help break down some of the walls that stand between the viewing public and the media, which has really become quite skeptical about the nature of the messages that are being conveyed.
The mainstream media just really seems to take itself way, way too seriously sometimes. Yes, I understand that they are the purveyors of news, but they act like they are afraid the ghosts of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite would haunt them if they did the news as anything less than the ULTIMATE truth. Sports did offer more opportunity for levity than say the main anchor talking about the Washington Shutdown in the style of Steve Carell's Brick Tamland.
This is why people like shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Yes, they know the news are spun with a comedic tilt, but they also aren't so busy genuflecting at their own altars. They may also be aware that these two shows are pushing an agenda but it's not like they are pretending to be unbiased as opposed to other networks who do say that ('Fair and Balanced News', my foot) and are pretty much the opposite of that.
Breaking down that barrier would be a good thing. Like I said, just something to keep us on our toes and show us that these are not all talking heads who seem to be puppets controlled by a bigger entity - then again, why do we only see the newscasters from the waist up most of the time? Hmmm.
Maybe more newscasters could don fake mustaches every now and then in the future, not just on Halloween. People would probably tune in even more. We could even have a phrase for it: doing a Gerke. So... stay classy, everyone.
Sesame Street and the Muppets have done it again - this time they are parodying Homeland - calling it HomeLamb. It shows a female lamb named Carrie. Her wide open eyes and her blond hair seem to show Claire Danes' character's manic moods even without any eyes blinking. They should keep this puppet in rotation in case they have to do anything about Michele Bachmann (her very name lends itself to it. C'mon... Baaaaaaaaachmann?). There's even a sheep that's supposed to play Maaaaaaandy Paaaaaaaaaaatinkin...excuse me, Mandy Patinkin's character Saul, replete with the hat and beard.
The sketch manages to perfectly bridge the adult themes of Homeland while weaving it into a familiar tale with a recognizable character, the Big Bad Wolf, who takes on the Brody role as a possible wolf in sheep's clothing. They also get Carrie's hypersexuality into the act without being crass about it: after all, it is still a kid's show. These things are set so that a kid can watch it and enjoy it: Hey, talking sheep playing FBI agents, but it's written so that adults can get a laugh at it. They have to do this, because chances are good that kids are going to make them watch this over and over, and the writers are so nuanced in the writing that a parent might see a joke they missed the first time around, or possibly the second...or the tenth. Yeah, if you have kids, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
The great thing about this is that the people behind the Muppets always manage to capture what the show is about, but adds its own humor and unique touch. In this one, it's seeing how many sheep and lamb puns they can possibly cram in four minutes worth of the sketch. Examples: "The big bad wolf is on the lam(b)" and he's shown sitting in a New York City subway sitting on top of a lamb. "I feel sheepish" is another. I'm not going to be one of those people who ruins the whole thing by telling you everything that happens in it. Even if you're without a child, this is still worth watching.
This immediately joins the other great parodies of years past, which includes the Sons Of Anarchy one from earlier this year. Keep up the great work, Sesame Workshop. We can't wait to see what's next.
Scandal has been doing better in the ratings, but it's finishing No. 2 in the ratings for the night in the 18-49 demographic (I'm SO happy to be back in this demographic, since it felt like once I left my mid-30s, no one wanted to hear a dang thing I had to say.) Sure, finishing second for the night is pretty decent, but I'd like to quote the immortal Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights: "If you're not first, you're last!" Though it was the World Series, the show wasn't helped as much as it might have hoped with the appearance of Lisa Kudrow - it dropped to a 3.0 rating.
Sure, network executives are somewhat more forgiving than racecar people, but not by much. They'll definitely be interested in seeing how the show does now that the World Series has ended. Kudrow wasn't enough of a draw to get more people to watch the show, apparently. The question is - why?
One theory is, despite Friends being re-run on at least one channel every hour (I'm serious here: Scroll through your channel listings. There's going to be a showing on SOMEWHERE. Thank goodness for syndication, huh?), the public just doesn't have the same fondness. Courtney Cox has had a bit of success on Cougar Town, but it took a cable network to salvage it. Matthew Perry has gone through not one but two shows. Jennifer Aniston is still seeking making movies, but not particularly good ones. (OK, Horribe Bosses was pretty decent.) So it stands to reason that Kudrow might not have the drawing power that she did a decade or so ago. The public's memory is a short-lived one.
Kerry Washington has done a great job and is becoming a star in her own right (having done a fantastic job hosting Saturday Night Live last weekend, including a hilarious sketch about the show's purported problems finding African-American women for their cast) and the fact that it was created by Shonda Rhimes works in its favor. Maybe people are still getting used to the fact that it's no longer following Grey's Anatomy anymore. It just feels like it could be doing even better than it is.
Baseball is over now. The true test will be on this Thursday. It's facing a struggling Elementary and Parenthood. It may keep its good numbers, but they'll have to get even higher to avoid the scandal of possible cancellation. Maybe they can get Will Ferrell to play Ricky Bobby on the show.
There was an interview recently on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that did more damage to the GOP party than the entire shutdown. What happened? A Republican precinct chairman in North Carolina was interviewed on the show and said some really dumb, racist things. You could tell they were going to be in that vein when he said, "My best friend is black." Yup, that practically set up a neon sign. After the show aired, he then resigned his position.
Yes, I know it wasn't Ted Cruz doing something like that, but it did wind up being a bloody nose for the GOP, however small it may be. They probably don't even care, given that Congress has approval ratings lower than contracting ebola. Yes, I'm sure that many people would rather bleed from every orifice than trust politicians implicitly.
The thing is, when it comes to media, journalism has been king for many, many years. People would trust what was read in the newspapers and many news anchors were held in such high esteem that they might as well have been nominated for sainthood: Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Diane Sawyer...the list goes on. But now the media is being viewed through a prism of mistrust. It seems like more people are listening to Stewart and Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central than someone like Piers Morgan on CNN or anybody on FOX News.
What helps Stewart and Colbert (well, Stewart more, since Colbert is a persona) is they can take an irreverent view on it that is still surrounded by truth and can expose the hypocrisy of what goes on in the government. Maybe the media got too high up on its pedestal and began thinking it could tell people what it wanted to behind its own agenda, even under the pretense of fair reporting. The Comedy Central duo tend to get under the hood and shine their light on what goes on there. Maybe they could call themselves "America's Auto Mechanics."
So maybe people should hope that Stewart gets many more politicians to appear on his show to show what they really stand for instead of having it sanitized on the news. Maybe in a couple of decades from now, we'll look at Stewart like we looked at the other anchors. And that's no laughing matter.
The show opened with Agent Siegel asking Neal Caffrey where to live in New York, since he's recently divorced. He then tells him a secret: he's rich. Of course there's got to be intrigue with the new handler. Caffrey pointed him towards the lower West Side.
They transitioned to the office and Caffrey learned from Peter Burke, his former handler, that Curtis Hagen is now free due to the contaminated evidence (thanks Neal!) and as a result, Hagen is out. Of course, just as he was leaving Burke's office, Caffrey got a text from Hagen. What, Hagen couldn't wait five more minutes?
They met at a museum. It wasn't a social visit. Hagen told Caffrey that he was grateful he is free. Caffrey said that's he's done, but Hagen said that he controlled when it was over and, oh, he wanted him to steal something for him.
Hagen wasn't after the most valuable piece, a painting. Instead it was a book; or part of it, rather - one chapter out out of something called the Mosconi Codex, a book that cannot be opened and supposedly has the key to wealth. (Hagen could have just gone to the self-help section of any bookstore, duh.) Caffrey's got 48 hours. Of course, he started off by flirting with the curator, who was named Rebecca.
There was comic relief, with Mozzie wearing bad wigs to conceal himself. Yeah, this is a theme this season: the costume department must love this. They hatched a plan to get Siegel to take Caffreys' tracking anklet off by having him convince him that the museum is going to be robbed by someone named Zev (a person who Mozzie had grievances against) and Neal wanted to be on stakeout, sans ankle bracelet. Siegel bit and Burke first said he would join them, but Neal reminded him that he has a Yankee commitment. Crisis averted...for now.
Caffrey met Rebecca outside the museum and managed to secretly procure her work ID,which would allow him unfettered access to the museum. Siegel then drove up and set up the stakeout. While they were sitting in the car, Siegel admitted that he got his fortune from his grandfather's making elevator buttons. Exciting. Neal sent him off on a goose chase based on a wig that Mozzie was wearing and was then about to make a move to the museum, since he only had a 10-minute window, when Burke showed up. Oops. Neal got him to leave by playing the guilt card about how Burke was the one who dumped him onto Siegel. Burke got the message and took off. Neal hastily made his way to the museum.
Disaster almost struck when Siegel was closing in on Mozzie, but Zev, who apparently was more inept of a burglar than Mozzie let on, set off the alarm, causing all the gates to shut, but not before Caffrey was able to get the chapter out of the book and replace it with dummy text. Both Caffrey and Zev were trapped in their respective spots in the museum. Caffrey shorted out the gate, climbed under and left. Siegel caught up with him outside and it turned out Zev stole the painting. Burke saw the alert that painting was stolen and brought in Rebecca for questioning, since it was her ID used to get in. Which of course made Caffrey feel guilty, since he was the one who took the ID in the first place, and he hadn't told her that he worked for the FBI. Which made the meeting in the interrogation room rather awkward.
Neal had to admit that he was doing some reconnaissance (though he shifted it by saying he was just checking to see if it might be an inside job). He tried to divert attention away from her since she was really innocent. In an attempt to figure out the stolen painting, he met Burke at the museum, where they first saw the Codex being moved, since the mysterious owner was not feeling it was safe there. Someone was opening the book and Caffrey was sweating bullets that the fake pages would be seen, but in Plot Saver, the other curator berated the guy to leave it shut. Then, focusing on the painting, Caffrey was walking through what Zev might have done to escape when he realized that he took his gloves off to short-circuit the gate below. Oops. Of course, since no one actually knows the Codex had been tampered with, no one would dust downstairs, so Caffrey was safe.
Zev was arrested with Mozzie watching the takedown while wearing yet another horrible wig. Afterwards, he crossed Zev's name off a pad. Yeah, you don't want to be on Mozzie's bad side.
Siegel and Neal were talking and Siegel is about to ask him something that seemed important and illuminating when Burke walked in. Moment lost. Neal then met up with Mozzie. They agree to try to crack the code in the chapter before Hagen could. That's part of the fun of White Collar: those two friends putting their heads together.
Much as I like Mark Sheppard, he seems to have taken a similar role like Crowley on Supernatural. Both are supremely amoral and like to hold things over people's heads. Hagen is doing the same thing the King of Hell did to the Winchester Brothers. I'm sure that White Collar fans will be rooting for Hagen to wind up someplace really, really hot by the end of this season. Hagen took the chapter and basically taunted Caffrey about when the 'favors' would cease. The only thing missing was him disappearing in a puff of sulfuric-smelling smoke.
Oops. Siegel happened to be tracking Caffrey and saw him talking with Hagen. Ruh-roh.
The episode ended with Caffrey seeing Rebecca at the museum. She had been let go, even though the painting has been returned...and then a bombshell. Caffrey came back to office to find a somber Burke and found out Siegel is dead (poor Warren Kole...I was hoping he'd get a longer run), shot on the street in what was viewed as a mugging gone wrong. My first guess is that Hagen figured out Siegel saw him and Caffrey and had him capped. We shall see as the rest of the season progresses.
FOX Broadcasting Co.
The other day, there was a teaser ad for the upcoming second season of The Following. It showed Kevin Bacon's character, Ryan Hardy, sitting in a chair in the middle of a fairly dark room. The camera began revolving around him from his left side while I was saying, "No, please, don't be what I think it is...don't be..." Of course, it was. It ended up with a bearded Joe Carroll, played by James Purefoy. This made me want to whack my head against the wall, since I thought Carroll was the lamest cult leader ever in the history of ever and FOX is making the biggest mistake ever bringing him back rather than trying to salvage something plotwise and move on.
The whole show just got incredibly stupid each consecutive episode. Honestly, the show probably only got good numbers due to people hate-watching it just to see how much sillier it could get. There was a sense of relief when it looked like Carroll apparently got burned into a crisp in a lighthouse fire in the first season finale.
If Carroll is back, the law enforcement people have to stop drinking the Kool-Aid of Stupid. Let's put it this way: if Raylan Givens from Justified could cross over into this show (hey, both are owned by FOX companies), he'd have found Carroll about 30 minutes in and then shot every one of his followers after that. People are that dumb in the show. They did things like turn their backs on someone who had admitted she was a follower of a homicidal maniac (someone got a hairpin in the eye for that). There were also times when the communications systems JUST happened to cut off at a certain point or someone happens to run from safety into the arms of the cult. (Natalie Zea's Claire, I'm looking at YOU.)
The problem is not Purefoy himself; he's a good actor who is saddled with some really truly terrible lines and actions. Bacon sometimes seems to have an expression on his face that says, "This two-year contract is guaranteed, right?" The writers don't DO anything to show why Carroll is such a charismatic person who has a following that makes Charles Manson's look like a tiny Boy Scout crew. When Carroll was trying to play charming, the words out of his mouth and his expressions would have made most people want to punch him. Well, me at least.
So, next year, we'll see what happens. Maybe the scene will turn into a dream sequence for Hardy and Carroll will be dead. But remember, show producers, if that's not the case, it's still not too late to bring in Givens from Harlan, Kentucky.
I've been a longtime fan of Ricky Gervais, ever since his turn as David Brent on the original version of The Office. Now he's back in a Netflix original series, called Derek, where he plays a caretaker at a British nursing home. Derek is a sweet, kind person who also borders on autistic (though he won't even admit to understanding what that is. "I'm tistic?"" he replies when someone asks if he's been tested.) The show's in the same mockumentary style as The Office, replete with awkward interactions with the cameramen.
When I watch Gervais play Derek, I visualize a mix between Dustin Hoffman's Rain Man and Gollum from The Lord Of The Rings in the way that he moves. He has this weird hunched-over shuffling style of walking and is constantly pushing long strands of his hair out of his face. For some reason, I also picture him as Marty Feldman's Eyegor in Young Frankenstein.
The show is a dramedy, quite capable of going from a scene that leaves me hysterical to one that sobers me up immediately. In one episode, Derek goes out to get a weekly lottery ticket for one of the residents, who then dies while he's outside. Upon returning, he asks if he can see her one last time and takes her hand and uses it to pat his head, which she would do to comfort him after he had screwed up something in her room.
There is a really good ensemble cast here, especially with Gervais regular Karl Pilkington playing Dougie, the curmudgeonly handyman with a hairstyle that seems to border between a monk and someone who set the top of his head on fire. Keri Godliman plays Hannah, the manager of the home, who is very invested in all the people who reside in the home and David Earl plays Kev, a crude man who has nothing better to do than just hang out at the home and drink beer and make obnoxious sexual references.
This was the first season of the show, and I have to say that I am looking forward to what the next season brings.
Recently, We Are Men was canceled after only two episodes aired. That was too many episodes, in my opinion. They tried to use the crutch of the man who bands with his "bros" over the "shrill, angry" women who would ruin their fun. People didn't want to see emotionally adolescent men stay stuck in those mindsets for a whole season. In other words, the crutch broke REAL fast.
The thing is, the TV genre of "man doing dumb things" on TV has been dwindling. There have been several in the last few seasons, including How to Be A Gentleman, Man Up! and Work It! (the last two were separate shows, though I am afraid someone may come out with a show called Man Up And Work It!) and were all cancelled quickly. At least Last Man Standing has Tim Allen's genial presence behind it and actually has good messages amidst the gags. Though the Duck Dynasty cash-in episode that shoehorned in religion was juuuuuuuuuust a bit heavy-handed.
I think that audiences have really recognized how lazy the premises of these shows are. Yes, men can do dumb, stupid, and crude things. There's always reality shows like Jersey Shore and their ilk if they want to see it up close. When it is played on sitcoms, it just distorts these men into even more grotesque caricatures of themselves and it rapidly devolves into pure stupidity.
Sure, there are shows where men act plenty silly and goofy, but they also show themselves to be capable of being mature adults when the time calls for. The failed shows paint the guys as those who would be rushing fraternities until they were 90.
So, sorry Jerry O'Connell, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Tony Shalhoub and Kal Penn - the next time that your agent pitches you for a casting call for one of these types of shows, your best bet is to politely decline...and then run very quickly for the door.
Recently there was a magazine photo spread featuring reunions of various casts from bygone shows of the past decades, including one from Boy Meets World. There is, of course, the spin-off coming soon called Girl Meets World , though, seeing the cast all together like that made me wonder why ABC didn't just resurrect the original show and call it Boy Meets World: 10 Years Later.
While Hollywood always seems to love featuring new blood, it can't be denied that the original cast had the perfect chemistry. With other networks are bringing back veteran actors like Michael J Fox and Robin Williams, there wouldn't be much to lose bringing back this cast, especially with its simultaneous syndication on The Disney Channel and MTV2. These people are still in the public consciousness.
Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel are reprising their old roles as Corey and Topanga, though they'll be parents now, and William Daniels is Mr. Feeny again (of course, because the show wouldn't be as awesome without him). There was talk of Will Friedle, Corey's brother Eric, and Rider Strong, who played Corey's friend Shawn, visiting the set of Girl Meets World but not being asked to join the show. That stinks, since the show could use the zaniness of Eric, playing an off-the-wall uncle to Corey and Topanga's children. Plus, Shawn could show them what life on the other side of the tracks is like. Heck, I'd even welcome a visit from Ethan Suplee's high school enforcer, Frankie.
ABC is doing us a disservice by not reuniting the whole cast, though I do hold out hope that once the show brings in a newer, younger audience, they'll slowly begin re-introducing the other former cast members. Otherwise, it'll turn into Girl Meets Harsh Reality Of Hollywood Business.
Summit Entertainment, LLC
Escape Plan, the movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, remained stuck in prison, only raking in a measly $9.8 million in its opening weekend. Both actors probably used that for a weekend getaway in their heyday. But now, it just seems to show that the moviegoing public has had enough of these two former legends.
Let's face it: both Stallone and Schwarzenegger are in their mid-60s and we seem to be asking ourselves if we want to see these guys pummel each other and run around trying to be action heroes. If we wanted to watch old guys duel, we'd pop Grumpy Old Men into our DVD player. Chances would be higher of one of those guys possibly hurting themselves trying to throw a punch than actually landing one. Actually, both guys are in good enough shape to break my face with one punch, so let's just forget I said that...
Sure, Stallone can still get people to see movies that he's in, but only if he's playing the part of someone he first made much more iconic when he was younger: Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. I don't think he'll be bringing Cobra out of retirement or making Demolition Man II, though. Arnie looks like he might be going to not just one well (Terminator and Conan), but will be in the Twins sequel as well (Triplets). In that case, some might argue that Danny DeVito is more famous now because of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
The two of them are actually much better in ensemble movies, which is why everyone loves The Expendables franchise. They should get more comfortable in doing things like that, because the 1980s and '90s are long, long gone (which the gray hair on my head attests). But both of them have enormous egos and we may even see another Rocky and Conan movie decades from now: Rocky and Conan in Their Nursing Homes.
We'd rather see them blend into other movies instead of fading away from the failure to accept what is happening to them.